Dear City Councilmembers:
We as faith leaders ask that you not fail our communities, your very constituencies. As the People’s Movement, King County Equity Now, Decriminalize Seattle, Got Green, WA-BLOC, No New Youth Jail, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action, One America, ACLU-WA, WA Poor People’s Campaign — along with hundreds of organizations and tens of thousands of working people — have urged you in emails, letters and public comments for weeks: Defund the Police Budget by 50 percent and invest the $85 million ($85 million still left for SPD) in our BIPOC communities now.
We are disappointed to learn from Friday’s Council Budget Committee that after weeks of promising our communities to Defund the Seattle Police Department in 2020 by 50 percent, the Council majority have now put forward budget proposals that only slice a tiny fraction of that amount from the SPD budget. Your budget proposals fail to defund SPD by anywhere close to 50 percent in 2020. Furthermore, by saying that the Council is going to take money from the Rainy Day Fund, instead of Defund, which the mayor will veto, our communities will in fact end up with nothing. This is unacceptable.
We urge you to honor your commitments and your own pledges to the people. Simply do what you said publicly you would in July with a veto-proof majority and Defund the Police Budget by 50 percent. Councilmember Sawant has proposed to the Council budget amendments that will actually cut $85 million, or 50 percent of the remaining 2020 SPD budget, and put that money into urgent social needs, especially in Black and Brown communities. No delays. Nothing less than what you promised our communities, your very constituencies.
We will hold you accountable, as you have asked us to do, for it is not enough to simply say Black Lives Matter. We need your actions to Defund and invest in our communities and Black lives.
Rev. Bianca Davis-Lovelace, Co-Director, WA Poor People’s Campaign; Rev. Dr. Robert Jeffrey, Senior Pastor, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church; Rabbi David Basior, Kadima Reconstructionist (Jewish) Community; Rev. Ellie VerGowe, Pastor of Outreach and Worship, First Covenant Church, Seattle; Rev. Beth Chronister, Minister of Social Justice and Care, University Unitarian Church; Rev. Cecilia Kingsman, Minister of Faith and Justice, Edmonds Unitarian Church; Rev. John Helmiere, Valley and Mountain; Rev. Angela Ying, Senior Pastor, Bethany United Church of Christ
Read more of the Aug. 12-18, 2020 issue.